Let's hope that the drunken revelers who enjoy cruising up and down the strip of bars on Polk Street are satisfied with their present options, because it doesn't look like many watering holes will be opening up in that particular neighborhood any time soon.
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a ban on all new bars coming into the six block span of Polk Street between O'Farrell and California streets. In recent years, the area has increasingly become one of the city's rowdiest centers for nightlife, a fact that has annoyed some of the neighbors and other merchants located in the area.
The legislation, which received unanimous approval from the Board, prohibits any new bars from opening in the area, while allowing alcohol licenses to be transferred from one business owner to another in event of a currently open establishment changing management or moving to a new location with the prohibition zone.
"[The ban] really tries to strike the right balance in making sure that we continue nightlife on Polk Street that is healthy but is also safe and respectful of our neighborhoods," the bill's sponsor, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, told the San Francisco Examiner.
Chiu noted that he is also looking into extending to ban to cover all commercial parts of Polk Street and instituting a policy ensuring that anyone singling booze in the neighborhood be required to ensure their patrons aren't being too noisy.
"While I appreciate the vibrancy of nightlife on Polk Street," the supervisor, whose district encompasses the area in question, explained to the San Francisco Chronicle, "this proliferation of alcohol establishments has had adverse impacts on the quality of life in the neighborhood in terms of noise, public drunkenness, public safety and pedestrian and traffic congestion."
There are already 45 businesses licensed to sell liquor on those six blocks already, leading some residents to provocatively wonder, "Is Nob Hill a new Las Vegas?"
These types of bar bans are common in regions of San Francisco where neighbors, at one time or another, have felt threatened by a rapidly expanding nightlife scene. In the mid-1990s, the central Mission District instituted a ban on liquors sales at new businesses that don't also include a full-service restaurant.
These types of bans don't extend only to alcohol sales. The Upper Haight has a hard cap that makes it nearly impossible to open up a new eatery in the area that's not simply taking over the space of one that already exists. Similar moratoriums on new restaurants have been discussed for the Mission's 24th Street and Valencia Street corridors.